Central Saanich councillors feel conflicted at times

Councillors and mayor all steer clear of conflict during meetings

No fewer than three times did Central Saanich district councillors excuse themselves from their Sept. 17 regular meeting, citing conflicts of interest.

Councillor Cathie Ounsted left council chambers when it came time to discuss recommendations from the planning and development committee, in regards to a proposed rezoning of four properties at Keating X Road and West Saanich Road. The rezoning would allow commercial use in the front half of the properties, with affordable, workers’ housing in the rear. Currently, only caretaker residences are allowed.

Council voted to approve the committee recommendation to defer further consideration and have staff bring forward a planning and public consultation process for a review of their official community plan.

That motion was successfully amended by councillor Zeb King to include more information on the costs to extend district services to those lots.

Coun. King later declared a conflict of interest in the case of a development variance permit application to vary the amount of parking at 7925 East Saanich Road. King cited a business relationship with the applicant. Council voted to have district staff work with the applicant to review the parking situation.

Mayor Alastair Bryson also excused himself before discussion on the use of private easements to extend utility services to certain properties. Bryson said he has a lot that is serviced  by a private easement, making the situation not in common with the larger segment of the population.

Council voted to support its current policy of generally encouraging direct connections from property frontages, while being flexible to service via other easements when “a net benefit is demonstrated.”